Asian Market Commentary
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Japanese Market Trades Notably Higher

The Japanese stock market opened on firm note Monday with investors picking up stocks, tracking a positive lead from Wall Street and a weaker yen.

Steel, non-ferrous metals, real estate, manufacturing and marine transport stocks opened on a firm note and are still mostly trading in positive territory with strong gains. Foods, electric power and construction stocks are trading mixed.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is currently up 107.4 points or 0.9 percent at 12,391.

Tokyo Dome Corp., the biggest gainer in the Nikkei index, is up as much as 12.5 percent. Shinsei Bank is up more than 10 percent and Resona Holdings is adding 8.5 percent.

Daiwa Securities Group, Sumco Corp., Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Toshiba Corp., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Holdings and Kawasaki Heavy Industries are up 5 to 6.5 percent.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU) is up nearly 5 percent. East Japan Railway, Mizuho Financial Group (MFG), Sumitomo Chemical, Nippon Yusen KK, Tokyo Tatemono and Nomura Holdings are all trading higher by over 4 percent.

JFE Holdings, Bank of Yokohama, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Honda Motor (HMC), Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda Motor, Nissan Motor, Yahoo Japan, Mitsui OSK Lines and Aozora Bank are also up with strong gains.

Among the losers in the index, Japan Tobacco is down 2.6 percent and Asahi Group Holdings is trading lower by 2 percent. Sharp Corp., Takara Holdings, Fast Retailing, Mitsumi Electric, Casio Computer and Mitsumi Electric are down 1 to 1.6 percent.

On the economic front, core machine orders in Japan plunged a seasonally adjusted 13.1 percent on month in January, the Cabinet Office said on Monday - well shy of forecasts for a decline of 1.7 percent following the 2.8 percent increase in December.

On a yearly basis, core machine orders dropped 9.7 percent - also missing expectations for a fall of 0.3 percent following the 3.4 percent contraction in the previous month.

The total number of machinery orders, including those volatile ones for ships and from electric power companies, saw a decline of 3.0 percent on month and 24.8 percent on year in January.

According to a report from the Bank of Japan, the M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.9 percent on year in February, standing at 828.2 trillion yen. That beat forecasts for an increase of 2.7 percent on year, which would have been unchanged from the January reading.

M3 money stock was up an annual 2.4 percent to 1,136.6 trillion yen - also exceeding forecasts for a gain of 2.3 percent. That also would have been unchanged from the previous month. The L money stock added 1.3 percent on year to 1,472.0 trillion yen after collecting a revised annual 1.2 percent a month earlier.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 96 yen-range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 96.18 to the dollar.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended at new record closing high on Friday, buoyed by an upbeat employment report. However, buying interest was somewhat subdued following the recent strong upward move.

The Dow rose 67.6 points or 0.5 percent to 14,397.1, the Nasdaq climbed 12.3 points or 0.4 percent to 3,244.4 and the S&P 500 advanced 6.9 points or 0.5 percent to 1,551.2.

Major European markets also ended higher on Friday. While the French CAC 40 index advanced by 1.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the German DAX index gained 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil settled higher on Friday, as demand growth prospects brightened after some upbeat macroeconomic data from the U.S. and China. Crude for April delivery ended up $0.39 or 0.4 percent at $91.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTT Staff Writer

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